El negro

En el Caribe Hispano hay una tradición de representar la “esencia nacional” a través de una figura subalterna. Si observamos la literatura del siglo XIX, podemos ver el surgimiento en Cuba, Puerto Rico y de la República Dominicana de palabras como : guajiro, jíbaro e indio.

La obra de Manuel de Jesús Galván (1843-1910), Enriquillo (1ra edición de 1882), hace del Indio una leyenda dominicana y la ausencia del “negro” es por mucho más que evidente.

A diferencia de Galván, su contemporáneo Juan Antonio Alix rescata al “negro” ridiculizando a aquellos que se dicen de “raza pura”.

El negro tras de la oreja

Como hoy la preocupación
A más de una gente abruma,
Emplearé mi débil pluma
Para darle una lección;
Pues esto en nuestra Nación
Ni buen resultado deja,
Eso era en la España vieja
Según desde chico escucho,
Pero hoy abunda mucho
“El negro tras de la oreja’.

Todo aquel que es blanco fino
Jamás se fija en blancura,
Y el que no es de sangre pura
Por ser blanco pierde el tino.
Si hay baile en algún casino
Alguno siempre se queja,
Pues a la blanca aconseja
Que no bailen con negrillo;
Teniendo aunque es amarillo
“El negro tras de la oreja”.

Falta así a la obligación
Negarse una señorita
A bailar cuando la invita,
Sea quien sea en el salón.
El que tiene invitación
Ninguna sospecha deja
De que sea mala pareja,
Pues allí lo han invitado,
Aunque tenga remachado
“El Negro tras de la oreja”.

El blanco que tuvo abuela
Tan prieta como el carbón,
Nunca de ella hace mención
Aunque le peguen candela.
Y a la tía doña habichuela,
Como que era blanca vieja
De mentarla nunca deja;
Para dar a comprender,
Que nunca puede tener
“El Negro tras de la Oreja”.

De la parienta Fulana
El pelo siempre se mienta;
Pero nunca la pimienta
De la tía siña Sutana.
Por ser muy blanco se afana
Y del negro hasta se aljea,
Nublando siempre una ceja
Cuando aquel a hablarle viene,
Por que se cree que no tiene
“El negro tras de la Oreja”.

Ahora la gente dique
Llaman a los preocupados
Los biscochuelos lustrados
Con melado de alambique.
Y por Dios que causa pique
Creer que hay gente… coneja
Cuando no hay persona vieja
Que ya no haya contado
De aquel que tiene pegado
“El Negro Tras de la Oreja”.

El que se crea preocupado
Que se largue allá a la Habana,
Que en tierra Dominicana
No les da buen resultado.
Y el biscochuelo lustrado
Aunque sea con miel de abeja,
No dé motivo de queja
Que todo esto es tontería,
Pues está a la moda hoy día
El negro tras de la oreja.

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On Becoming a Chicano by Richard Rodriguez

Who I am ? What have I become myself ?

I speak French, English and Spanish and somehow, just like Richard, Spanish is starting to become a memory in my head. When I’m in the Parisian metro and that I hear people speaking Spanish I get immediately transferred to so many memories from my past.

On Becoming a Chicano, an American graduate student recalls how he sloughed off his Spanish-Mexican heritage and then painfully rediscovered his Chicano roots. 
This article was adapted from an essay submitted by the author to an essay contest on graduate school experiences, sponsored by the Wright Institute, Berkeley, California.

Today I am only technically the person I once felt myself to be—a Mexican-American, a Chicano. Partly because I had no way of comprehending my racial identity except in this technical sense, I gave up long ago the cultural consequences of being a Chicano.

The change came gradually but early. When I was beginning grade school, I noted to myself the fact that the classroom environment was so different in its styles and assumptions from my own family environment that survival would essentially entail a choice between both worlds. When I became a student, I was literally “remade”; neither I nor my teachers considered anything I hadknown before as relevant. I had to forget most of what my culture had provided, because to remember it was a disadvan­tage. The past and its cultural values be­came detachable, like a piece of clothing grown heavy on a warm day and finally put away.

Strangely, the discovery that I have been inattentive to my cultural past has arisen because others—student colleagues and faculty members—have started to as­sume that I am a Chicano. The ease with which the assumption is made forces me to suspect that the label is not meant to suggest cultural, but racial, identity. Nonetheless, as a graduate student and a prospective university faculty member, I am routinely expected to assume intel­lectual leadershipas a member of a racial minority. Recently, for example, I heard the moderator of a panel discussion in­troduce me as “Richard Rodriguez, a Chicano intellectual.” I wanted to cor­rect the speaker—because I felt guilty representing a non-academic cultural tradition that I had willingly abandoned. So I can only guess what it would have meant to have retained my culture as I entered the classroom, what it would mean for me to be today a Chicano intel­lectual. (The two words juxtaposed ex­cite me; for years I thought a Chicano had to decide between being one or the other.)

Does the fact that I barely spoke any English until I was nine, or that as a child I felt a surge of self-hatred when­ever a passing teenager would yell a racial slur, or that I saw my skin darken each summer—do any of these facts shape the ideas which I have or am capable of having? Today, I suspect they do—in ways I doubt the moderator who referred to me as a “Chicano intellec­tual” intended. The peculiar status of being a “Chicano intellectual” makes me grow restless at the thought that I have lost at least as much as I have gained through education.

I remember when, 20 years ago, two grammar-school nuns visited my child­hood home. They had come to suggest—with more tact than was necessary, be­cause my parents accepted without ques­tion the church’s authority—that we make a greater effort to speak as much English around the house as possible.

The nuns realized that my brothers and I led solitary lives largely because we were barely able to comprehend English in a school where we were the only Spanish-speaking students. My moth­er and father complied as best they could. Heroically, they gave up speak­ing to us in Spanish—the language that formed so much of the family’s sense of intimacy in an alien world—and began to speak a broken En­glish. Instead of Spanish sounds, I be­gan hearing sounds that were new, harder, less friendly. More impor­tant, I was encouraged to respond in English.

The change in language was the most dramatic and obvious indication that I would become very much like the “gringo”—a term which was used descrip­tively rather than pejoratively in my home—and unlike the Spanish-speaking relatives who largely constituted my pre­school world. Gradually, Spanish be­came a sound freighted with only a kind of sentimental significance, like the sound of the bedroom clock I listened to in my aunt’s house when I spent thenight. Just as gradually, English became the language I came not to hear because it was the language I used every day, as I gained access to a new, larger society. But the memory of Spanish persisted as a reminder of the society I had left. I can remember occasions when I entered a room and my parents were speaking to one another in Spanish; seeing me, they shifted into their more formalized English. Hearing them speak to me in English troubled me. The bonds their voices once secured were loosened by the new tongue.

This is not to suggest that I was being forced to give up my Chicano past. After the initial awkwardness of transition, I committed myself, fully and freely, to the culture of the classroom. Soon what I was learning in school was so antithetical to what my parents knew and did that I was careful about the way I talked about myself at the evening dinner table. Oc­casionally, there were moments of child­ish cruelty: a son’s condescending to in­struct either one of his parents about a “simple” point of English pronunciation or grammar.

Social scientists often remark, about situations such as mine, that children feel a sense of loss as they move away from their working-class identifications and models. Certainly, what I experi­enced, others have also—whatever their race. Like other generations of, say, Polish-American or Irish-American chil­dren coming home from college, I was to know the silence that ensues so quickly […] …

“On becoming a Chicano” Richard Rodriguez
“On becoming a Chicano” Richard Rodriguez, Saturday Review, 1975
“On becoming a Chicano” Richard Rodriguez, Saturday Review, 1975
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A Puerto Rican Stew By Esmeralda Santiago

HERS; A Puerto Rican Stew



I’M IN MY KITCHEN, browsing through Puerto Rican cookbooks, when it hits me. These books are in English, written for people who don’t know a sofrito from a sombrero. Then I remember the afternoon I returned to Puerto Rico for the summer after 15 years of living in the United States. The family gathered for dinner in my mother’s house. The men settled in a corner of the living room, while Mami and my sisters chopped, washed, seasoned. I stood on the other side of the kitchen island, enjoying their Dance of the Stove with Pots and Pans — the flat metal sounds, the thud of the refrigerator door opening and closing, the swish of running water — a percussive accompaniment enhancing the fragrant sizzle of garlic and onions in hot oil.

“Do you cook Puerto Rican?” Norma asked as she cored a red pepper.

“No,” I answered, “I never got the hang of it.”

“How can you be Puerto Rican without your rice and beans?” joked Alicia.

“Easy,” said Mami. “She’s no longer Puerto Rican.”

If she had stabbed me with the chicken-gutting knife in her hand it would have hurt less. I swallowed the pain. “Si, Mami,” I said, “I have become Americana.”

“I knew it the minute you stepped off the plane.”

I parried with “Wasn’t that what you wanted when you first brought us to New York?”

As Mami split the chicken, her voice rose, indignant: “I only wanted the best for you.”

The dance was over, a knife suspended above tomato halves, rinse water running through rice clear as sunshine. I walked away, pushed by their silence — my mother, my sisters, my brothers-in-law. No one followed me, or challenged her assessment of me as a turncoat who had abandoned her culture. I stood in the gravelly yard, the soles of my sandals separating me from the ground as if I were on stilts, unable to touch my native soil, unable to feel a connection. I wanted to cry, but would not give them nor myself the satisfaction of tears. Instead, I leaned against a fence and wondered if her words hurt so much because they were true.

Whatever I was, Puerto Rican or not, had been orchestrated by Mami. When I was 13, she moved us from rural Puerto Rico to Brooklyn. We were to learn English, to graduate from high school, to find jobs in clean offices, not factories. We were to assimilate into American society, to put an end to the poverty she was forced to endure for lack of an education.

I, the oldest, took up the challenge. I learned English so well that people told me I didn’t “speak like a Puerto Rican.” I gave up the bright, form-fitting clothes of my friends and relatives for drab, loose garments that would not brand me as a “hot tomato.” I developed a formal, evasive manner when asked about my background. I would not admit to being poor, to living with my mother and 10 sisters and brothers in a three-room apartment. I would tremble with shame if newspapers identified a criminal as Puerto Rican.

Mami beamed when I got a job as a typist in Manhattan. She reminded me that I was to show my sisters and brothers the path to success without becoming “Americanized,” a status that was never clearly defined but to be avoided at all costs.

That afternoon in her kitchen was the first time we had spoken in seven years. The grudge we held was so deep, neither could bridge it without losing dignidad, an imperative of Puerto Rican self-esteem. The break had come when I stopped being a “good” Puerto Rican girl and behaved like an American one.

At 21, I assumed I was old enough to live my life as I pleased. And what I pleased was a man a year older than Mami. I ran away with him, leaving a letter telling Mami I wouldn’t be home after work because I was eloping. “Don’t worry,” I signed off, “I still love you.”

She tracked me down to an apartment in Fort Lauderdale more luxurious than any we’d ever lived in, to say that if I returned home all would be forgiven. I refused. During those seven years, the man for whom I’d left my mother turned out to be as old-fashioned, possessive and domineering as she had seemed. From him, too, I ran away.

To question my Puerto Rican identity that afternoon in her kitchen was Mami’s perfect comeback to what had surely been seven years of worry. It was also her way of recognizing her own folly. She had expected me to thrive in American culture, but I was to remain 100 percent Puerto Rican.

Mami came to realize the impossibility of such a demand, how difficult it is for someone from a “traditional” culture to achieve success in the United States without becoming something other than the person she set out to be. My one act of rebellion forced her to face what she had never expected. In the United States, her children would challenge her authority based on different rules of conduct. Within a year of my leaving home, she packed up the family and returned to Puerto Rico, where, she hoped, her children would be what they couldn’t be in the United States: real Puerto Ricans.

I stayed behind, immersed in the American culture she feared. But I never considered myself any less Puerto Rican. I was born there, spoke its language, identified with its culture. But to Puerto Ricans on the island during my summer there, I was a different creature altogether. Employers complained that I was too assertive, men said I was too feminist, my cousin suggested I had no manners, and everyone accused me of being too independent. Those, I was made to understand, were Americanisms.

Back in the United States, I was constantly asked where I was from, and the comments about my not looking, behaving or talking like a Puerto Rican followed me into the era of political correctness, when it’s no longer polite to say things like that.

I’ve learned to insist on my peculiar brand of Puerto Rican identity. One not bound by geographical, linguistic or behavioral boundaries, but rather, by a deep identification with a place, a people and a culture which, in spite of appearances, define my behavior and determine the rhythms of my days. An identity in which I’ve forgiven myself for having to look up a recipe for arroz con pollo in a Puerto Rican cookbook meant for people who don’t know a sombrero from a sofrito.


Esmeralda Santiago is the author of “When I was Puerto Rican,” a memoir. [HERS; A Puerto Rican Stew
By ESMERALDA SANTIAGO, New York Times 1994]

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Mapas de Puerto Rico



stco_PR-2 (imagen 1)

cis_map_58PR (imagen 2)





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Le Statut portoricain

Directamente desde el sitio de uno de mis bloqueos consentidos, Radinito, esta reseña sobre el estatus puertorriqueño por Alegría Ortega.

Ok, está en francés, pero hoy google.translate lo puede todo.



UnknownAlegría Ortega, Idsa E. La Comisión del status de Puerto Rico. Su historia y significación. Río Piedras: Editorial Universitaria, Universidad de Puerto Rico, 1982, ix, 214 pp.

Dans les études sur Porto Rico, un des sujets les plus débattus et celui de son statut politique. Malgré une certaine méconnaissance générale, l’histoire de l’île est assez compliquée et, pour la résumer, on peut se contenter de dire que le passage de la souveraineté espagnole à l’américaine, après la Guerre hispano-américaine de 1898, marque un des moments clés de son histoire. La documentation sur cet événement est très copieuse, mais en France elle reste assez inaccessible. Depuis le début du XXe siècle, le gouvernement américain, les autorités portoricaines et des experts dans des très différents terrains ont produit un corpus doctrinal et légal très vaste.

Le livre d’Idsa E. Alegría Ortega, issu de sa thèse doctorale, est une approche documentaire à…

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Música para calentar el corazón

Cuando uno parte al exilio, sea la razón que fuese, uno tiende a añorar la tierra, aveces con un poco de exageración. Conforme pasa el tiempo, uno se va despreocupando de los problemas políticos y económicos de su tierra y el recuerdo tiende a ser dulce y positivo. Y dependiendo de que tan nacionalista sea uno, puede ser hasta un recuerdo majestuoso.

No importa que hoy Puerto Rico se este cayendo a pedazos; que los jubilados no reciban sus pensiones completas; que anuncien el cierre de 180 escuelas públicas quesque para ahorraro que el sistema de transporte sea más deficiente que en Nicaragua. Incluso, uno puede seguir sufriendo de todos esos “males tropicales” que se le han achacado a Puerto Rico desde ya mucho antes que Anita en West Side Story indicara que era uno de sus grandes motivos para no regresar a la “ugly island”.

Se es pobre ¡¡Y qué!!

Lo que importa es que se extraña a la tierra, se extraña estar calentandose el corazón bajo el sol. De pronto, las imagenes que tengo en mi memoria de Puerto Rico (mi tierra de adopción) se vuelven en imagenes de un mundo rodeado de lujo, felicidad y calurosa covivialidad. De “pura flama”, como dice la canción de Mamá Borinquen me llama. Donde se repudia el frío y se invita al retorno de los “buenos tiempos”.

 ¡”Mamá! ¡Borinquen me llama!
¡Este país no es el mío!
Borinquen es pura flama,
¡y aquí me muero de frío”!

Tras un futuro mejor
el lar nativo dejé,
y mi tienda levanté
en medio de Nueva York.
Lo que miro en derredor
es un triste panorama,
y mi espíritu reclama
por honda nostalgia herido
el retorno al patrio nido.
¡Mamá! ¡Borinquen me llama!

¿En donde aquí encontraré
como en mi suelo criollo
el plato de arroz con pollo,
la taza de buen café?
¿En donde, en donde veré,
radiantes en su atavío,
las mozas, ricas en brío,
cuyas miradas deslumbran?
¡Aquí los ojos no alumbran
¡Este país no es el mío!

Si escucho aquí una canción
de las que aprendí en mis lares,
o una danza de Tavárez,
Campos, o Dueño Colón,
mi sensible corazón
de amor patrio más se inflama,
y heraldo que fiel proclama
este sentimiento santo,
viene a mis ojos el llanto…
¡Borinquen es pura flama!

En mi tierra, ¡qué primor!,
en el invierno más crudo
ni un árbol se ve desnudo,
ni una vega sin verdor.
Priva en el jardín la flor,
camina parlero el río,
el ave en el bosque umbrío
canta su canto arbitrario,
y aquí… ¡La nieve es sudario!
¡Aquí me muero de frío!

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1917-2017 : AMERICANOS PUERTORRIQUEÑOS, 100 años después de la Ley Jones de 1917

Seamos, pues americanos, ya que así lo decretan las autoridades del Norte: pero seamos americanos portorriqueños, como son los de Kentucky americanos kentuckienses; como son los de California y Hawaii, americanos californianos y hawaianos, respectivamente.

Que no se olviden nuestros campesinos cómo se pulsan las cuerdas de un tiple, ni cómo se rasca un güícharo, ni lo que es una fiesta de reyes, ni lo que es un aguinaldo; que no olviden nuestras mujeres cómo se baila la danza; que no olviden nuestros poetas cómo se canta al Terruño. Conservemos nuestra personalidad netamente borinqueña. Seamos ante todo, criollos. Seamos jíbaros.

(Luis Muñoz Marín, 1917)

Citado por Luis Agrait Betancourt, «La idea independentista de Luis Muñoz Marín (1913- 1931)», Picó, Fernando (ed.), Luis Muñoz Marín: ensayos del centenario, [Trujillo Alto], Fundación Luis Muñoz Marín, 1999, pp. 1-13

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